Chris Hardy (Special photo)
ALBANY — The Albany Area Chamber of Commerce has recently contracted the services of Albany lobbyist Jerry Usry to advocate for the organization at the state capital.
Beginning this year, the Chamber has employed the services of Usry and his firm, Ursy Consulting Inc., to represent it’s interests during the legislative session as well as provide guidance to the organization about how new legislation might affect the chamber and its membership.
According to Chris Hardy, Chamber CEO, the hiring of Usry fills a vital need for the chamber whose most recent full time legislative affairs liaison Deborah Bowie left the organization last spring. Hardy said while having a full time position was beneficial in the past, that person did not necessarily have the time to be present in Atlanta for the legislative session and handle the Chamber’s local interests as well.
“In the past we had a staff person,” said Hardy. “But even that person couldn’t be in Atlanta as often as we’d have liked. The primary importance (of this change) is being at the general session.”
Hardy said Usry, who has worked with the Chamber’s legislative committee on a volunteer basis for some time, is an ideal fit.
“In order to be effective you have to have someone who has a consistent presence in Atlanta,” said Hardy. “Jerry has great relationships. Working with Jerry gave us the opportunity to capitalize on relationships he’s built over the years.”
According to Usry’s contract with the Chamber, he will be charged with advocating for Chamber initiatives with the General Assembly and the state executive branch, as well as advocating with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s government affairs counsel.
Hardy would not disclose the amount of money allocated to the lobbying contract.
The contract also asks that Usry monitor and engage in legislative activity during the general assembly session for the benefit of the chamber. Usry will also organize events and trips with county delegates and other state legislature.
“This is fairly substantial,” Hardy said. “It’s a value to us and it’s an extra value to our membership. It’s a value all the way around. It’s a win win.”
Usry, who worked as a lobbyist with the peanut industry and as a federal lobbyist, started lobbying at the state level in 1999, and is present in Atlanta full time during the legislative session.
“I represent a number of clients that have interest in Albany,” Usry said. “I’m pleased to be working the Chamber.”
Usry Consulting is also a Chamber member, so Usry said he’s been active with the organization over the years, helping any way he could. The decision to contract with Usry was made last fall during the Chamber board’s budget process and went into effect the first of this year.